The Joy of Teaching

imageWhen I think of all the things that energize me and that I would do even if I had all the money I needed and did it for free, teaching is in the top two (preaching the Word is number one.) I’ve been teaching at Regis University for fifteen years and, despite the amount of work involved, I love every minute of it. Teaching someone a skill or an idea that will improve their life and help them achieve whatever objectives they have is one of the better contributions that I can make to the lives of my students.

People ask what it’s like to have bored students and I’m quick to point out that boredom is about 90% the teacher’s fault. It is your job as the teacher to reach ALL of your students and the variety of learning styles that they bring to the classroom. You can’t simply bring your default method (e.g. lecture) to the course and expect everyone to conform to it. You must get to know your students to the best of your ability and meet each of them where they are prepared to be met. You have to care.

Caring is shown in a number of ways but pushing a student to expand their abilities and do their best at all times is one of the most important. Students may not want to be stretched, relying instead on whatever they define their comfort zone to be. When you think about it, your favorite teachers were those who challenged you, weren’t they? The student may erect a hurdle saying that the challenge is beyond their ability but the good teacher is always prepared to leap over these barriers and show the student that they can be successful. They may not thank you this semester but somewhere down the line, the student will always remember someone who believed in them.

photo from foundphotolj’s

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A New Way of Teaching

I’ve been teaching at Regis University since the early 90s, with all of my courses being classroom based. I love this environment and the ability to interact with the students, getting to know them and their educational goals so that I can contribute to their growth. Recently, I was recruited to teach in the online environment and participate in our distance learning offerings. 

All instructors are introduced to the system through an intensive, two week course in conducting and constructing your courses online. I’ve just finished week one, which sharply curtailed the amount of writing I have been able to do on my blog, and my attitudes toward the process are slowly shifting toward the favorable.  Having taken some online classes in the past, I found that they gave the student too much of an invitation to procrastinate until the last minute thinking that the anonymity of the online world shielded their study habits. What I’ve discovered is that keeping student’s involved is more a product of course design than the environment itself. It will be interesting to see how this works out at the end of next week.